Paris: Day 6 -- Champs Elysees, Louis Vuitton, and Visiting Relatives

On day six of Paris we headed out for Champs Elysees.  We had a few stops while we were there but the main focus was to shop at Louis Vuitton.  For a few years now, I had been hinting to Brent about getting a Louis Vuitton bag for my thirtieth birthday (this was August of last year).  A few months before then, he had told me that he had been setting aside money so that he could buy it for me for my birthday!  What a lucky girl!

I had casually started shopping over the past year for the bag I wanted whenever we would run into one of their stores so I already knew what I had my eye on.  By then we had already booked our trip to Paris.  As I started our vacation plans I learned that the Louis Vuitton at Champs Elysees was the flagship store.  I looked into it a little more and even stumbled upon purse forums with all sorts of helpful information (who knew there was such a thing?)!

In my research I learned that shopping at the flagship store in Paris had it's perks.  First, they cost less than they would in the states.  And secondly, you have the exchange rate in your favor.  On top of that there is the VAT refund (if we ever get it...a year later!!!???).  You are also more likely to be able to purchase a purse that was actually made in Paris versus another country (which is stated inside the handbag).  Plus they offer free monogram stamping in store (not all have this in store) and the location at Champs Elysees happens to be three stories.  Obviously traveling out of the country just to buy a handbag is not going to save you money!  But since we were already planning a trip, it was a no brainer.  Plus it became an experience versus stopping in to our local mall.

While we brought back plenty of souvenirs, being able to bring back my purse from Paris is something that I will keep forever and pass on one day.  It was most definitely a special experience.

Non handbag people are rolling their eyes at me right now.  #sorrynotsorry

I read that it was best to go on an early weekday to beat the crowds.  We waited until near the end of our trip so that we could go on a Monday which allowed us to go in and get helped right away.  

We were helped by the kindest french man who took us to the second floor to see the bag I had chosen.  It all went pretty quickly since I already knew what I wanted.

After we made the final decision on the bag and paid we were sent up to the third floor to get my monogram hot stamped on the bag.  We were offered drinks as we sat and watched the man on the other side of the room stamp the purse.  It all felt very VIP to be up there and we quietly giggled to one another about it as I tried to sneak some photos.

 It was definitely a very special and luxurious experience that I will never forget.

By the time we were done, it was still fairly early in the day.  We walked up and down Champs Elysess soaking up the experience.  We then landed at Laduree.

I was very excited to hit up this famous bakery that specialized in macarons.  The pastel colors made me swoon. 

 The inside of the bakery had the most beautiful decor and sweets galore all lined up.

I really wanted to get one of these key chains.  I think they were around 60 euros.  Crazy.  We had just bought a handbag so I couldn't rationalize buying one.  But I will admit to looking them up on Amazon and Ebay.  They are a little cheaper at around $50.  Yikes.  It's probably good that I can't decide on a color.

Not only were the macarons pretty but they were sure delicious.  We tried Pierre Herme for macarons as well (which I will share about in my next post) but I preferred Laduree hands down.  They were simple and sweet just as I expected.

A million pictures of macarons.  My priorities are no secret.  I have decided the next time I come in contact with a Laduree we will stop to have lunch.  Brent loves that I already have a list of things to do when we go back to Paris one day!

We then headed over to the Arc de Triomphe for a few photos.  We decided to save visiting the top for later as we wanted to go in the evening to be able to see the Eiffel Tower light show at night.

They are pretty serious about no tripods in or anywhere around the Arc.  We had to cross the street to get a photo.

It was about lunch time by now and so we went in search for my step grandmother's son's Chinese restaurant, La Pivoine Chinoise.  Apparently I have met this family before but we decided we would try to meet up with them while we were in Paris.  We had only vaguely talked to my grandmother about it, leaving us only with a restaurant and address.  We weren't sure if he would even be there but we lucked out that he was.

He was pleasantly surprised to meet us, showing us pictures of his kids on his phone, and insisting that we go visit his wife who worked at a different Louis Vuitton store.  His English was just fine for a Chinese man living in Paris but we had a good laugh when I said thank you in Chinese to him as we left.  American girl speaking Chinese in Paris.  I feel pretty proud about that one.

The funniest thing I noticed was that there were no Asian people eating at the restaurant.  Living in California, I am so used to seeing at least fifty percent of restaurant goers looking like my mom!  French people like Chinese too apparently.

While we were not super adventurous in embarking on too many French meals, having a delicious Chinese lunch was definitely a familiar comfort from home.

Here dessert apparently comes served alongside extra sugar.  We just went with it!

Growing up my grandmother has always gone back to Paris at least once a year to visit her son and his family.  It was her stories, photos, and little trinkets that she brought home for me that stirred my first longings to visit Paris one day.  It only seemed fitting that we got to meet her family and see part of our family history come full circle.

After lunch we walked some more to hopefully find my Chinese aunt!

She worked at the Louis Vuitton in Galeries Lafayette.  We quickly found the long line I read about and so we searched for a store employee to help us find my aunt.

We waited around until they could find her and then they pulled up the rope to let us slip right in.  We were greeted by a very enthusiastic aunt who was extremely happy to see us!

She had a better memory of meeting me at my brother's wedding apparently and was thrilled to see pictures of my family and nephews that I could pull up on my phone.

The silly lady at Louis Vuitton thought it would be a good idea for Brent to stick his head through the luggage Eiffel Tower for our photo.  For such a posh place with a long line, they were very kind about letting us float around the store with my aunt.

She sat us down to talk for a little bit and insisted on bringing us champagne.  We don't drink so I struggled with getting some champagne down for her sake.  She was so sweet and happy to see us, drinking expensive Louis Vuitton champagne was the least I could do!

While we were at the mall, we checked out the famous glass dome of Galeries Lafayette.

We did not do any shopping here, but making the trip just for the view is worth it in my opinion.

I had also read that the view from the top terrace was pretty spectacular.  We were not disappointed.

There were a ton of people up top just lounging around and talking.  It even looked like a place where they hosted events and served food.  It's worth the hike up to the top of the mall if you are in the mood for more walking.

We headed back to our hotel to drop off our goodies and snap a photo of my iconic Paris souvenirs.  You can see the monogram hot stamp on my bag here as well.

For dinner we headed out to a restaurant in Rue Montorgueil that was recommended by friends.

The place was Little Italy and it did not disappoint.  Again, not crazy for the french food.  

Pasta and bread is all I want ever again.

We sat outside in the cramped seating area (not my introverted favorite thing).  We eventually talked to the Americans living in Paris who were seated next to us that we got to overhear their conversation the entire meal.  They ended up being very nice and gave us a few good recommendations for places to hit up on our last few days in Paris.

We ended the night by returning back to Vedettes du Pont Neuf for an evening boat ride down the Seine.

I tried to just sit back and relax this time around, enjoying the night time city lights.

It was pretty cold on the boat but I loved seeing how the city reflected onto the water.  Even for a Monday night, the city was so full of life.  Teenagers lingered on the banks of the Seine and lovers cuddled under the street lit lights.  It was just what I had always imagined and even more.

See all Paris posts here.